Defensive coordinator John Papuchis talked after practice Tuesday about the linebacker position, one that certainly needs addressing after the Nebraska defense gave up 219 yards on the ground to Wyoming.
Papuchis said he would have liked to see more Zaire Anderson, but Wyoming’s 4-wide offensive sets were more conducive to Nebraska’s dime packages with Mo Seisay and Nate Gerry.
“I’d like to see Zaire have a bigger role this week,” he said. “That’s going to be dictated by what kind of personnel grouping we’re seeing from Southern Miss. You have to have some guys out there that can cover wideouts. Zaire can in certain situations, so his role I’d like to see increase.”
True freshman linebacker Josh Banderas will also continue to see playing time, according to Papuchis. He wanted more time to play Banderas other than a few series and on special teams, but the coaches didn’t exactly have Wyoming where they wanted on the scoreboard.
“The game wasn’t ever comfortable enough where we were that eager to put in a freshman, but we finally kind of bit the bullet there in the fourth quarter.”
After Bo Pelini stated Monday that the gap between starting middle linebacker David Santos and Banderas is slim, Papuchis reiterated that he’ll see more time versus Southern Miss.
“We have a lot of confidence in [Banderas] whether we’re up 16 or up three. As it turned out in the end, he did a pretty good job.”
Els also said redshirt freshman Michael Rose could make an appearance Saturday.
–When it comes to game planning for the Eagles, Papuchis said it’ll be easier than planning for Wyoming in the season opener in certain areas.
“You run the fine line of preparing for too much and overwhelming your guys with information, and in some cases not preparing enough, and there’s a lot of guesswork involved,” he said.
Despite having a first year head coach in Todd Monken, Papuchis said he’s got a good idea of how to scout Southern Miss.
“I don’t know what they kept in reserve and what they didn’t, but I think I have a pretty good idea of who they are based on what we saw the other day.”
Papuchis said he sees “subtle differences” between the the Eagles offense and the offense Monken ran as offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State.
–Special teams coordinator Ross Els was impressed with the Nebraska special teams Saturday, and he judged by the opener last season against Southern Miss. The Eagles took a kickoff to the house for a touchdown last season, but Els was happy with the opener this year.
“We fired about half the guys because you can drill it all you want, you can go live, but until you can see who really can do a good job of it, or reading it, and really wants to make the play, game experience is huge,” he said. “That group did a good job. I think we have the right guys on there.”
–Freshman Nate Gerry made his first appearance to the media as a Husker Tuesday after practice. In his first appearance on the field, Gerry finished third on the team with five total tackles against Wyoming and a quarterback hurry from the dime linebacker position.
Gerry said he’s getting comfortable in the versatile role of a hybrid position.
“The first time they transitioned me to linebacker it was tough,” Gerry said. “I was frustrated for the first couple days. They threw me in with the ones right away and I didn’t know what I was doing at all. Coach Papuchis sat me down in the meeting room and we kind of went over it and it was a slow process for me at first, but I’m excited because I signed the paper to play football here, and any way I can get on the field is what I’ll do.”
–Randy Gregory addressed his phantom sack Tuesday, which was taken away after officials called a penalty for roughing the passer.
“I don’t know what to say about it, in my book it’s a sack. I’ve never been called for rouging the passer on a sack before,” Gregory said
–Gerry mentioned that the upcoming game against South Dakota State is probably the game he’s most looking forward to.
“I know a lot of people in South Dakota are rooting for me, but now I don’t know who they’re going to be rooting for,” he said.
–Els said Nebraska has changed its punt protection unit to more of a 3-man shield formation, which allows more chances for coverage later in the play. Els also commended Kenny Bell and Josh Mitchell for their play on special teams against Wyoming.
“There’s two starters that want to be on special teams. That’s fun. That’s a great example for the rest of our team,” he said.